Our pain must never be repeated, say families of tragic Ipswich couple who died in stabbings

Thomas and Katherine Kemp were pronounced dead on August 6. Picture: KEMP FAMILY

Thomas and Katherine Kemp were pronounced dead on August 6. Picture: KEMP FAMILY - Credit: Archant

The families of a couple who died after the husband killed his wife and himself following missed opportunities from the mental health crisis team have spoken of the ‘need for a better system’.

The scene around Siloam Place Picture: ARCHANT

The scene around Siloam Place Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: ARCHANT

Coroner Jacqueline Devonish ruled at the end of a week-long inquest that Thomas and Katherine Kemp were sent home from hospital just hours ebfore their deaths in a “distressed and hopeless” state after seeing a mental health crisis team, run by Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT).

Mr Kemp, 32, died from self-inflicted stab wounds to the neck, torso and limbs outside the flat he shared in Siloam Place, near Ipswich Waterfront, with his wife Katherine, 31, who died from stab wounds to the chest.

Mr Kemp, a University of Suffolk course administrator, had a long history of mental ill health and had told police officers he wanted to harm himself just hours before he killed his wife and then took his own life on August 6 last year.

A statement released by the family of Mr Kemp said: “During the many occasions Thomas sought help from the mental health trust clinicians, they diagnosed him with suffering from anxiety.

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“Retrospectively, his diagnosis was changed to a suspected form of psychosis following the tragic events on August 6 2018.

“Both Thomas and Katherine desperately reached out for help and they were discharged resulting in us losing our loved ones.

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“There is a need for better systems in the future. They have failed not just Thomas, but his wonderful partner Katherine. We do not wish to see the pain our families are experiencing repeated.”

Mrs Kemp was found inside the couple’s shared flat with multiple knife wounds to her body.

The inquest heard how she has pleaded with staff at the hospital saying: “We need help. He needs help.”

The family of Mrs Kemp said: “Katherine was Thomas’ rock, her love and support for him unstinting.

“She stayed with him when he threatened suicide with knives, was able to calm him down and went with him to A&E where she thought they would be safe. Katherine, our beloved daughter, gentle, loyal and brave.”

Diane Hull, chief nurse of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT), said: “We would like to express our most sincere condolences to the families of Thomas and Katherine Kemp.

“NSFT and East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust [ESNEFT] commissioned a review of the care and treatment of Mr Kemp, and the events leading to his death and that of his wife.

“The purpose of investigating an incident thoroughly is to learn lessons. There is an absolute need to learn what went wrong and why, so that services can be improved and, most importantly, prevent another family suffering what Mr and Mrs Kemp’s families have been through.

“Our trust believes we have a duty to do this for the sake of future service users and their families.”

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